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TSA Notice(Civil Penalty) Advice?

Discussion in 'Legal' started by Sin, Feb 5, 2011.

  1. Sin

    Sin New Member

    In what I will chalk up to as a moment of colossal youthful naivety/stupidity, I misunderstood the difference between a Gate check and a Baggage check at my local New York airport and let a toy bb gun through security screening in my suitcase.

    (Picture of bb gun: google "Tokyo Marui g17 spring")
    It was a spring bb gun sealed in its original packaging with its orange blaze tip and other security features intact.

    I was detained by the TSA and after some deliberation, they escorted me back out to have it baggage checked and told me I would soon receive a letter, which I have just received today a month later.

    I have received a Notice of Violation stating that my possession of the item violated 49 C.F.R. 1540.111(a) of the Transportation Security Regulations.
    The letter proposes to assess a civil penalty in the amount of $250, or $125 in full payment if received within 30 days.

    I'm absolutely fine with paying the $125 for my embarrassing stupidity, but what I'm really worried about is if this will go down somewhere on a permanent record showing up on background checks and such. Being a college student looking to go into law or gov't work, you can see why this is a huge concern for me.

    Does anyone have any advice for me, or similar stories? What should I do in this situation?

    Thanks guys,
  2. Hypnogator

    Hypnogator Well-Known Member

    You can't rev up the ol' time machine, go back in the past, and take it out of your luggage.:what::eek::rolleyes:

    Pay the $125 and pray it isn't recorded as a "gun crime" on your record. Because it is a "violation" with a low fine, I doubt that it would ever find its way onto your criminal record.

    DDDT (Don't Do Dumb Things!) :banghead::banghead::banghead:
  3. Sin

    Sin New Member

    Yeah, it was a pretty huge lapse in judgment, a lesson that I won't be forgetting anytime soon.

    Anyway, I also found a link to a story you guys might like... Our good ol buddies in the TSA sure are looking out for us...
  4. gc70

    gc70 Well-Known Member

    $250 is the lowest possible civil penalty that TSA assesses. Civil penalties for some violations can go as high as $10,000 and can include referral for criminal prosecution.

    Read the TSA's Enforcement Sanctions Guidance Policy. BB and air guns are addressed starting on the bottom of page 7. You must have made a favorable impression, because fines in that category run from $250 to $1,500.
  5. GRIZ22

    GRIZ22 Well-Known Member

    Does anyone have any advice for me, or similar stories? What should I do in this situation?

    Pay the fine and stay out of trobule in the future. Minor violations are usually adjudicated with a civil fine such as this. If you don't pay it TSA can change tehir mind and go criminal with it and then you will have problems.
  6. McKnife

    McKnife Well-Known Member

    I would contact a lawyer just to make sure everything pans out okay.:uhoh:

    Don't ever deal with TSA alone. TSA is the new ATF.:barf:

    I was threatened with a $10K fine for having shotgun shells in my checked firearms case. Long story short, I got lucky because I've got kin high-up in the food chain and I got off scot-free, sans shotgun shells.
  7. Shadow 7D

    Shadow 7D Well-Known Member

    correct me if I'm wrong, but as long as the ammo is secured (as in not loose) you can transport it in your case. A loaded weapon OTH....
  8. 627PCFan

    627PCFan Well-Known Member

    I would get formal legal advice. I would think that paying the fine is admittance of guilt and might not be something you want on your record.

    On a similar note, I took a last minute trip last summer, grabbed a bag I didn't full clear for ammo after hunting season..and missed several shotgun shells. Long story i was detained for 15 minutes, explained things and on my way I went, without charges. Apparently its quite common for hunters and law enforcement. It happens, dont stress-
  9. Six

    Six Well-Known Member

    I would probably want to talk to a lawyer with some understanding of the laws involved.

    Otherwise you have no idea of what will be put in what database.
  10. rl2669

    rl2669 Well-Known Member

    You might want to contact an attorney about this. Some states that have discretionary CCW issuance will probably deny you for having ANY firearms law violation on your record. Think CA, MA, NY, etc.
  11. leadcounsel

    leadcounsel member

    Where is the language that says a toy gun is not allowed?

    Is this a civil penalty or a citation or admission of guilt to a criminal act?

    I'd inspect the heck out of your options before I paid a fine (which could retroactively become something worse ala the domestic violence misdemeanor convictions).
  12. medalguy

    medalguy Well-Known Member

    TSA regulations prohibit firearms, starter guns, pellet guns, or realistic replicas of firearms. I think this would include BB guns. They can be checked but not carried on an aircraft:


    Just FYI a BB gun is not a toy gun, but either description would be covered by TSA regs. The penalty they assessed you is a CIVIL penalty although in extreme cases they can also initiate criminal prosecution:


    I would suggest you contact an attorney ASAP. Be prepared to pay the civil penalty but first ascertain if there might be any criminal prosecution pending, but I doubt it. That's pretty extreme and rarely done.
  13. zhyla

    zhyla Well-Known Member

    I agree, get some legal counsel. They may tell you to pay the fine, they may tell you to give them the finger. My concern with the "just pay it" advice is that you may admitting to a crime when in reality this is just a miscommunication (you honestly thought the line was for checking luggage).
  14. Sin

    Sin New Member

    Thanks for all the comments guys...

    It seems that the general consensus is to contact a lawyer/get legal advice before proceeding. I'm not really sure it would be worth it if I could just get this matter cleared as a civil penalty for a meager $125, but I'm also not sure if doing so would be, as some of you say, an admission of guilt to trying to carry a firearm onto a plane... which would look terrible on any kind of future permanent record.
    I don't want to drag this out with legal proceedings, but I'm applying to grad school soon, and soon after that hopefully moving on to a job in the gov't, so I really don't want to risk having something like this on a record somewhere (Showing up on background checks? Does it even work that way?).

    I'll keep you guys updated as things progress.
  15. Cosmoline

    Cosmoline Well-Known Member


    49 USC §46505 appears to provide massive felony-level penalties for violation of the code you cited. EVEN IF YOU ONLY PAY A SMALL FINE YOU COULD BE BARRED FROM GUN OWNERSHIP FOR LIFE. Your counsel, who should be someone familiar with federal criminal law, needs to assess precisely what it is they're wanting you to plead guilty to. These aren't traffic cops and this isn't a traffic ticket. It's the same code provision used to put away terrorists with huge bombs.
  16. GRIZ22

    GRIZ22 Well-Known Member

    49 USC §46505 appears to provide massive felony-level penalties for violation of the code you cited.

    I have received a Notice of Violation stating that my possession of the item violated 49 C.F.R. 1540.111(a) of the Transportation Security Regulations.
    The letter proposes to assess a civil penalty in the amount of $250, or $125 in full payment if received within 30 days.

    45505 does give felony penalties for criminal prosecution of violations. The OP said he was charged under 1540.111 and assessed s civil penalty.
  17. nyrifleman

    nyrifleman Well-Known Member

    Don't pay it!

    One of the options they offer in the letter that you receive is to "request an informal hearing". The TSA seems to be pretty lenient to first-time offenders.

    First time I ever flew with firearms, I didn't realize I had to declare a firearm in checked luggage. The firearm was unloaded and locked up, and I thought that would be enough. Yes, I was VERY stupid and naive. With my heart in my throat, I called the TSA and the person I got ahold of advised me to take the informal hearing option. I did that, and got a call about 3 weeks later. The lady listened to my story (not much of one, I mostly apologized for being an idiot and promised not to do it again... and I definitely will not), sounded very understanding, and told me she would advise her supervisor to cancel the fine. A few weeks later, I got a letter saying the fine had been dropped.

    Considering how stringent and serious TSA checks are these days, I was very surprised at finding them so lenient. YMMV, I suppose.
  18. gc70

    gc70 Well-Known Member

    From TSA's Enforcement Sanctions Guidance Policy:

    The listed civil penalty range for the above violation is $250-$1,500.

    Other types of violations explicitly list criminal referrals.
  19. Archie

    Archie Well-Known Member

    A 'civil penalty' is in the same category of violation as a parking ticket. It is not a felony, it is not a crime. There is a record of the event; agencies must keep track of what they do in terms of 'enforcement' and certainly have to keep records of penalties issued.

    Under current federal law, this should not interfere with any future firearms purchases. However, you may be 'flagged' in the future for screening. Which is probably no big shock to you.

    You can pay the penalty now and be done with it, or hire a lawyer to fight it costing a great deal more. Either way, it's not a crime or felony and you have no criminal conviction.

    Liking it is optional.

    I used to deal with civil penalties with another federal agency. That ended when I retired.
  20. Cosmoline

    Cosmoline Well-Known Member

    There's no charging provision in that statute, it just sets the law. The charging provisions, and the potential range of fines and time, are in another place. Is this really a mere civil penalty they're proposing? What about potential criminal charges? What exactly are they proposing? None of us have seen the notice or heard what they told the OP. The law is complex and the worst case scenario nothing short of life-destroying. This is one of those situations where you REALLY need a lawyer before you agree to diddly.
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2011

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